Thursday, November 03, 2005

Quicksand: You Decide

I’ve been meaning to stump for some of the links found along the right-hand side of this page, and today, Bad Movie Club gives me the perfect excuse.

BMC is hosted by Jason, a friend I met in college, and it tackles, in his distinctly funny, pop-culture-steeped, faux-violent tone, the stupidity of Southern cultural conservatives, the efficacy of Dallas Cowboys defensive alignments, and the good, bad and ugly of the cinema. (Jason has been known to see more than 200 movies a year, without exaggeration.)

Today it features this enlightening post, which I’ll comment on after you have a chance to absorb it. Here it is:

Three Things

Hey there sexy BMC readers -- Mandrake here feeling a small amount of scientific vindication.

For those of you who have spent any amount of time speaking to me while I am drunk and/or angry with the world (i.e. 99.99% of my waking hours), you may have heard me speak about the three things on which I base my life. Before you worry that I am going to throw out some philo-speak about Buddha or the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, fret not. That is not why we are here today. The three things are just simple facts -- things that I know to be true. Regardless of how out of sorts my life becomes, I can fall back on these three things and know that somehow the sun will come out tomorrow and a new day offers a new opportunity.

Wiseman's Three Things He Knows To Be True.
1. Quicksand does not exist.
2. I could never be killed by a dog.
3. In a ten round fight, I could beat a kangaroo on points.

Some people believe in karma. Some people believe in Jesus. I believe in my three things.

Well about a month ago a study by the University of Amsterdam published in the magazine Nature confirmed my #1 belief. Quicksand truly does not exist (at least the way the liberal Hollywood elitists would have you believe.)

And I quote:
But when they used an aluminum ball with a density equal to the human body, which is less than the density of quicksand, they found it impossible to sink the ball, no matter how hard they shook the pit.

What a feeling. Bring on the dogs and the fighting kangaroos!
The other day over lunch, I kid you not, I was randomly telling a couple of friends about Jason’s fixation with: a) believing he’s incapable of being killed by a dog, and b) believing he’s capable of beating up a kangaroo. These beliefs alone, obviously, make Jason – in no particular order - incredibly entertaining, a bit terrifying, good to have around in a tight spot, and possibly worthy of government-funded study. And for what it’s worth, I believe him on both counts.

But I had forgotten about the quicksand. We used to have discussions about this in college with some frequency, which normally boiled down to something like this:

Me: I think it’s pretty much scientific.

Jason: It’s a myth.
Now, Jason boldly asserts that he was right all along.

Not so fast.

A closer examination of the article he links to, which can be found here, leads me to stand by my side of the argument, which is that quicksand is real and deadly. The study does suggest that it is less cartoonish than is popularly believed, finding that once one is in up to the waist, one tends to float rather than sink further. But, wait.

First, we have this: “Yet while the risk of vanishing has apparently evaporated, escaping the muck is still a tough task: To pull one leg free requires the amount of force needed to lift a small car.”

Now, I admit that I’m on the wimpier side of the spectrum, especially in comparison to someone like Jason, who has often spared my life out of sheer generosity of spirit. Still, I wouldn’t define any situation that requires the “force needed to lift a small car” to be a particularly safe one – especially when, according to the study, “Movement by a victim makes things worse.”

And what does worse mean? The report, again: “The higher the stress, the more liquid the quicksand becomes, so movement by a trapped body causes it to sink in deeply.”

So there are your two options: Bob happily in the middle of a quicksand pit for eternity, or start “moving” and “make things worse.”

So, dear readers, unless you believe you’re capable of lifting a small car without moving, I would argue that you would find any experience with quicksand all too real.


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